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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. first up, a conversation with harvard sociologist sara lawrence-lightfoot. she was the first african- american woman to have a professorship at harvard named in her honor. she has a new book called "exit". also, luciana souza is here. we are glad you have joined us. coming up, right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out.
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>> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: sara lawrence-lightfoot is a renowned harvard professor and author. her latest book is called "exit: the endings that set us free." good to have the on this program. >> it is great to be here. thank you, tavis. tavis: tell me more about your fascination with endings. >> i have noticed for a very long time, from when i was very
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young, how we did about x's, departures, bias, in our schools, our neighborhoods, that we are so preoccupied with beginnings, with launchings, was tilting toward the future and seizing opportunities that we neglect the important moments of reflection that can go on when we are saying goodbye and making a move to leave, as we leave and move on to what is next. tavis: endings are not always easy, but the way you lay out the text helps us more easily process how to gracefully exit situations. i love the layout of the text. chapter one is called home, chapter 2 is a voice, chapter 3 freedom, chapter 5 learning, chapter 6, grace. let me ask you to outline each of those chapters. is an easy book to read, even
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know endings are not always easy to navigate. >> in each of these chapters, there are two portraits of people who are going through different kinds of exit's. the idea here is that if we look through the lens or prism of exits as a fundamental human experience, we will see them differently than if we don't look that way. in the home chapter, there is the story of a 16-year-old iranian man who was forced to leave iran because of the brutal war going on, and to come to this country, leave his family, which is very hard to do, in order to save his life. it is really about the exit he makes from there, which is at fourth exit, and how he finds a home here. not in a particular place, but in his sort of resolution that he is able to continue to live with his family in his body and in his spirit, even as he comes
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here. the second story is about a gay activist middle-aged man and his exit from the closet, and how he finds home within himself and within its community, in developing a fully elk their identity as a gay man. tavis: let's talk about voice. >> it is interestingly the story of a woman who started a nonprofit for young, rural teenagers, most of them poor and white. helping them learn outside the context of school in the rural environment. she did that for 25 years. she recognized that it was her entire life, that in order for her to live another chapter of her life, she had to leave the organization. at the same time she realized
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that the organization needed new leadership. so she really planned her exit very ritualized. the transition was done with great smoothness and alacrity and grace. what she discovered in leaving there was that in order to find her so low voice, in order to emerge to a new chapter, she had to leave the organization which had been a collective voice. she had organized and built that organization showed that it was a very collaborative organization. tavis: i want to give the reader a sense of how easy it is to navigate. since you mentioned alacrity and grace, i think we are all struggling with how, when we come upon these endings in our lives, how we exit with purposefulness, how we do it with dignity and grace.
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have you figured out the answer to that important question? >> the last chapter of the book is grace. as it should be, it is the final exit. it is a man who is dying of terrible cancer, and his wife promises him that his exit will be beautiful, it will be celebratory, that he would die at home, surrounded by his family and by his friends. and it will be a purposeful exit. the people who surround him will bring stories and memories and conversation and love and rituals and prayers and songs. for those weeks in which he is dying at home, he will be surrounded by people, not put off in a corner to diet alone, but very much out in the open and in the light. there is a way in which that is a lovely metaphor for other kinds of graceful exits, that we
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have to look at exit says moments of opportunity. we have to see in them the chance for ritual and ceremony, community building, storytelling, all those things we can do in a purposeful way to recognize the generativity of east exit. society looks as exits as-spaces in our life's journey, rather than moments of propulsion. part of that just has to do with our framing of it, putting it in the light and putting sort of a ritual and ceremony around it, so that people will feel as though they are in those moments, part of the community, a community that embraces and nurtures them and helps propel them to the next chapter. tavis: the think you are right about the fact that some of the difficulty that comes along with
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gracefully ending a particular project or phase of our lives has to do with societal framing. it also seems to me that for whatever reason, not bad beginnings are easy, we just have, internally, a more difficult time with endings. if i am right about that, why you think that is the case? >> i think because most things that we are ending, we have committed ourselves to. we have been responsible to, we have worked hard with, we built relationships around. and we have roles and status in them, and it is very hard to let all that go, that has been so much involved in shaping our identity and our feelings of self-worth. to separate ourselves from that and move on to the next chapter always entails some loss. one of the reasons i talked
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about the endings that set us free is that the other part of loss, if we can feel it and be purposeful about it, is liberation. even know it is hard to leave, it was not a good experience, there is something about our identity that is involved with that, even though there is inevitably a feeling of loss and disorientation and confusion and ambivalence, there is also the opportunity for liberation, for setting yourself free for the next chapter. whatever it might be. tavis: sometimes, though, will we come to an exit or an end, we don't always feel free. we feel bound, sometimes bound by the past, bound by obligation, bound by a variety of different things. what say you to those of us to come to exits' and we don't feel a sense of freedom? we don't feel like we have been
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liberated? >> i think partly we need to reflect on where we have been and extricate ourselves from those shadows, those places where we do feel bound by these anshan relationships or by these relationships that have not been, or even organizational structures, that have not been nourishing for us. i think only when we have made a good exit can we begin to launch ourselves into something productive. it really behooves us to be reflective, to be self critical, to go through this moment of pause, and look back as a way to try to extricate ourselves from those things which make us feel bound or inhibited, which make us feel reticent to take the next step. that will give us the freedom to take the next step.
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tavis: i have learned in my own life that when we come to those endings, those exit's, sometimes we job, and sometimes we get pushed. sometimes you go voluntarily, sometimes you go in voluntarily. the question is, help us here in terms of how we make decisions, and for that matter, advanced toward the exit, advanced toward the door, bring something to an end when that is the best option. how do we make that transition? >> it is interesting that forced exits are often quite different from chosen exits'. one of the things i discovered in talking to many people who had gone through exits of a variety of kinds is that even those of us who choose an exit find it still hard to leave. just because we choose it, and even though we set up a kind of
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celebration or rituals or a way of proceeding and we pass the -- pass the baton to the next person, we often feel lost and alone and isolated and marginalized by a decision that we made on purpose. so i think all exits are difficult. one of the things i found was that there are two kinds of experiences of exits' that everyone talked about. one is that moment when all the sensations come together, and we say it just seems to come out of our body. i am out of here. i am done. it is over. and we make a public announcement about that. it almost feels like we are just doing it all of a sudden. but in the experience of every one that does that, as they look back, they realize they have been exiting for very long time. this is a messy process and a complicated process.
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so there are many exits before they get to the big moment of announcement or proclamation. then even after they exit, there are ripple effects. we are still doubting ourselves, instead of looking back, we are still unsure. it is important that people recognize the messy quality of exit's the moment when they pay attention to it. even then, it does not become absolutely clear on broadway. there are these reverberations that last a while. tavis: she has been at harvard for better than 40 years now and has written a litany of wonderful text. so much so that harvard has honored her as a first african- american lawmen to have a
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professorship named in her honor. her book is called "exit: the endings that set us free." she is sara lawrence-lightfoot. we've just scratched the surface. >> wonderful to talk to you. tavis: up next, brazilian jazz singer luciana souza. stay with us. luciana souza it is a grammy- winning jazz singer who has collaborated with many artists over the years, including herbie hancock, james taylor, paul simon, and so many more. our first project is called "the book of chet" and the other is called "duos iii". here is some of the making of "the book of chet".
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♪ ♪ >> the idea was not to imitate art replicate let chet did or does, but to try to articulate his world. ♪ tavis: so why your particular are peculiar love for chet baker? >> a lot about his voice interest me. there is something about his voice that is not masculine or feminine, is some kind of
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androgenous sound. the fact that he sings so quietly, so understated, there is no ornament to it. the lyrics, the poetry behind it, so much more than some of the loud voices. in that sound, i find a lot of his humanity. it is a great voice to go for. tavis: i like how you define and describe that. when you reference the humanity of chet baker, what are you hearing? >> vulnerability, the fact that it is not refined in a way that you and i would respect. we all know that he had a tragic life and was involved in drugs and was a junkie, really. but in order to get a sound out, to take a breath and make a sound, he has to dig so deeply. maybe in that way he reveal something that some of us who are really thinking or covering
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our sound cannot do that. it is just a lack of self consciousness. tavis: i have had more than one person who suggested to me, artists, writers, who have suggested to me that there is something unique and uniquely different about artists who have endured very difficult times, and how that comes out in their artistry. helen comes out in chet baker is music, etc. do you think there's something to that, for a guy like chet baker who lived a troubled life, as you said? >> merkley. if you have had to put yourself together again, are just stand up in the morning and put a how do put a horn to your mouth and try to blow are saying -- or
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sing, having had an illness or death in the family, a tragedy at a young age, it helps form who you are. it is easier to get to that place that is human, that all of us carry a lot of us mask all the time. tavis: how would you define "the book of chet"? how would you define what you are attempting to do? >> it is really an inspiration. i cannot copy him, but really being inspired by his voice, but the choice of songs. when i would listen to him, i go, what is he doing here that makes me feel this way? the music takes me to a place. i go into a room and close the door, and maybe i have a companion, but it is ok to have
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that. i find the voice to be so friendly and soothing, and i can go into that darkness or sadness without being depressed or suicidal. it is important to visit that. i am of course paying tribute to him, but it is not a trivial like, let me copy what he did. tavis: so what is the challenge, and what is the joy of being a woman recording music made by a man? i believe music is music, and it is all beautiful, but you talked earlier about his voice. there is obviously something you thought you could approach, and you were not scared off by his treatment of it, but you thought you could give it some sort of treatment that might work. what is the challenge and the joy of doing that? >> i grew up in brazil, so the
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music i was inspired by was the boss a notebook, which was heavily influenced by chet baker -- was bossa nova. it is understated, not ornamented, it is subtle. the challenges exactly that, i am completely naked in the sound, without anything to hold me. a lot of what he recorded was done live. he wanted to do everything in one take, because they did not know if they could get a second take. tavis: let me switch to "duos iii". tell me about this project. >> it is the end of a trilogy that i started 10 years ago.
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for some, he was -- for me was definitely a legend. growing up with that sound, it was what i knew how to do and wanted to do. it is very traditional. these are standards of the brazilian repertoire, and bringing new to this moment in doing an absolutely live. there are a lot of mistakes, but there is something about taking a photograph of that moment. and then finding the beauty in it and choosing to show it to people. tavis: you grew up in brazil. what has been the greatest joy of having grown up living where you did? >> i was born in 1966, so i grew up within the dictatorship, and
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it ended just as i turned 18. the challenge was to grow up with parents who were quite political, who could not be political. my dad was a self-taught guitar player, but a really sensitive guy. the challenge was to grow up in a country which we knew could do so much more and be so much better than it was. not being allowed to speak, to dream, to write music. tavis: now you are hosting the olympics. >> but to grow up in a place like that was a challenge for all of us. also to see the joy of that opening up. the joint is to see that even though there was so much hardship and so much censorship, that people could be created and they could write lyrics that would be critical of government
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without being explicit. it is a fascinating place. i don't know if you have been to brazil. tavis: many times, i cannot get back there often enough. the fact that now this country is hosting the olympics with a woman president. >> i was just talking with the driver who drove me here. we were talking about that. there was a lot of preparation for a woman to be president. the last two presidents we have had just prepare the country for this. we are onto something really special with brazil. it is going to show a lot of joy to the world and hopefully we will win the world cup that is coming up. tavis: speaking of brazil, let me close by asking what you say
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about the music of brazil today and whether it is as vibrant and if you are hearing the kind of nuances and innovation that you think are necessary to keep it alive in brazil. >> absolutely. brazil is a fantastic country. it takes everything in and transforms it and then sends it out. it keeps doing that. it has this ability to really look out and be very present and aware of itself. it is still young. people fail miserably, and they are so resilience. they pick up the pieces and keep going. we have endured a lot of hardship there. >> it is a great nation. the african tradition that we have really gives a lot of rhythm to our music. tavis:luciana has two projects
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out now. the first is called "duos iii" and the other is "the book of chet". that is our show for tonight. we will see next time on pbs. thanks for watching. as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with actor jack black on his role in the critically affect -- critically acclaimed film "bernie." king had that said there is
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right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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Tavis Smiley
PBS November 1, 2012 2:30pm-3:00pm PDT

News/Business. Luciana Souza. (2012) Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Harvard Graduate School of Education; jazz singer Luciana Souza. (CC) (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 13, Brazil 8, Chet Baker 4, Sara Lawrence-lightfoot 3, Tavis Smiley 2, U.s. 2, Pbs 2, Luciana Souza 2, James Taylor 1, Bossa Nova 1, Luciana 1, Anshan 1, Tavis 1, Baker 1, Iran 1, Smiley 1, Helen 1, Junkie 1, Los Angeles 1, Etc. 1
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